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Park retains cautious stance on US-led Pacific trade pact
Publication Date : 09-10-2013
South Korean President Park Geun-hye remained cautious on Seoul’s position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a US-led push to create a free trade bloc linking Pacific-rim states.
She did not express Seoul’s interest in joining the trade bloc during her attendance at the two-day Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bali, Indonesia.
Her economic aide said Seoul would take more time to build public consensus over the TPP issue and strive to further ongoing talks over envisioned free trade deals or deepen already-signed deals.
During a written interview with The Jakarta Post, Park noted that there were a series of free trade talks underway and stressed that these moves should be building blocs toward comprehensive regional economic integration.
“If regional trade agreements such as the TPP and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, for which negotiations are now underway, can be described as tributaries, the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific can be likened to a river and the multilateral trade regime, centered on the World Trade Organisation, to the sea,” she said.
“As different tributaries join to form a river flowing into the sea, a variety of regional trade agreements among Apec member economies should harmoniously contribute to the conclusion of the FTAAP and ultimately help reinforce multilateral trade systems around the world.”
The US has spearheaded the efforts to conclude the TPP, for which currently 12 countries including Japan have been in negotiations. The TPP has taken political overtones as China views it as part of Washington’s moves to counter its rise.
For the RCEP, 16 countries including South Korea, China, Japan and India have been in negotiations. They aim to conclude it by 2015. As for the FTAAP, the Apec has been pursuing it since 2004, but little progress has been made due to differences among member economies.